New York Senator introduces UAP/UFO transparency amendment

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

On June 25 of this year, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines released two versions of a report, one public and one classified, described as a preliminary assessment of Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon, or UAP. (Most of us still call them UFOs.) The report fulfilled a requirement found in the 2020-2021 Intelligence Authorization Act, crafted largely under the direction of Marco Rubio, among others. One of the findings of the report urged for a more permanent and properly resourced replacement for the temporary UAP Task Force, which has operated largely in the shadows under the DNI. Fast forward to this summer and an initial bit of movement in that direction showed up in the first draft of the House National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 4350). It contained some new language along the same lines, principally authored by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). That language did indeed call for some significant progress in the government’s efforts to investigate and explain the enigmatic craft that our military pilots have been observing, but many advocates for more transparency in the UAP discussion found portions of it to be on the weak side, lacking in both the greatest possible transparency and the scope of the type of data that the new office would be collecting.

This week saw a dramatic change in the situation, however. The Senate had drawn up its own version of the NDAA in July, but it lacked any matching UAP language to meld with Gallego’s proposal. Then, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand suddenly dropped a bombshell of an amendment to the bill this week. It not only includes much of the same language that Gallego proposed but goes dramatically further, spurring more public disclosure of information and expanding the capabilities and scope of the new office which will be known as the “Anomaly Surveillance and Resolution Office. (ASRO). Douglas Dean Johnson was among the first to discover this new amendment and provides a very thorough rundown of the details.

The U.S. Senate may soon consider a bold proposal to require the U.S. military and intelligence agencies to greatly increase the level of priority, coordination, and resources that they direct to the problem of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) — and to share at least part of what they know or learn annually with the American people.

The proposal was quietly filed on November 4, 2021, by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) as a possible amendment to the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R. 4350). The full U.S. Senate may take up that bill before the end of November.

Dean Johnson goes on in that article to detail many of the exciting specifics of what is now being referred to in somewhat awed tones in ufology circles as simply, “The Gillibrand Amendment.” He also covers the history of the steps leading up to this moment over the past few years, so it’s a great read for those not fully familiar with how all of this has unfolded. For those with less time, Washington Examiner journalist Tom Rogan has a somewhat more abbreviated but still excellent version. Today, I just wanted to touch on a few of the highlights for you.

You can read the full text of Gillibrand’s amendment here if you scroll down to SA 4281.

In general, Gillibrand’s amendment would give the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the DNI, 180 days to establish the ASRO, with the UAP Task Force handing over all of its resources and responsibilities to the new office. It further orders that each agency in the Department of Defense and the intelligence community immediately hand over “any data that may be relevant to the investigation of unidentified aerial phenomena” to the ASRO.

One of the complaints about the House version of this proposal is that it only specified the processing of UFO reports by pilots and flight crew in the military. Gillibrand sweeps all of that away, saying that all “military and civilian personnel employed by or under contract to the Department or an element of the intelligence community” will be provided with an avenue to report UAP sightings and relevant data to the ASRO. This would be, in my opinion, a simply huge development. But she doesn’t stop there. In addition to sightings, the amendment requests reports “including adverse physiological effects, involving or associated with unidentified aerial phenomena directly to the Office.” What she’s talking about are reported incidents where witnesses have not only encountered UFOs but have suffered adverse medical reactions from the encounters. That’s the sort of thing that was previously restricted to television shows narrated by William Shatner.

The amendment further directs the FAA, NASA, Homeland Security, NOAA, and the Department of Energy to coordinate with the new office in these efforts. Historically, both the FAA and the DoE have been conspicuously silent and refused to discuss anything related to UFOs with the media and the public. This is another bold step.

One of the other biggest bombshells is found in the Intelligence Collection and Analysis Plan section of the amendment. (You may want to buckle up for this part. Emphasis added.) Gillibrand specified that the ASRO is “to gain as much knowledge as possible regarding the technical and operational characteristics, origins, and intentions of unidentified aerial phenomena.” I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks as to what that means for yourself. But that section of the amendment goes on to call for “an update on any efforts to capture or exploit discovered unidentified aerial phenomena.” If I’m not mistaken, the Senator is about to ask the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies to tell us if they’ve ever captured a UFO. This is unheard of.

There is plenty more goodness in that amendment. You can either read it yourself or look through Dean and/or Tom’s articles (linked above) for additional highlights. One other thing I will note here is that whoever wrote the text of this amendment (Senators rarely write their own from scratch) is a person who has taken a very deep dive down the UFO rabbit hole. Language is included describing the search for “transmedium vehicles” that either transition from space to our atmosphere or from our atmosphere into bodies of water. The phrase “transmedium vehicles” has only very recently risen to prominence in ufology circles. Also worth pointing out is the fact that Kirsten Gillibrand sits on both the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees in the Senate. As such, she has been privy to every one of the classified UFO briefings that have been given but not revealed to the public. She hasn’t spoken publicly on this subject yet to my knowledge, but who knows what sort of intelligence she’s received and how it may have prompted her to action?

So is this actually going to make it into law? Here’s how the process probably plays out. The Senate Armed Services Committee finished the first draft of the NDAA at the end of July. Since then, the Senators have had the chance to read it (or in most cases, have a staffer read it) and submit amendments that will be considered prior to the final floor vote. Hundreds of such amendments have been received and the Senate leadership won’t end up introducing them all. But Gillibrand has quickly risen in the ranks of the Democratic leadership and now carries a lot of clout. If she wants that amendment debated, it probably will be.

I’m guessing that the only members who even know anything about the UAP topic are in favor of this. The rest will likely shrug and vote for it anyway. I don’t see anyone falling on their sword and tanking part of the NDAA because they “don’t want to talk about UFO stuff.” The NDAA is a must-pass bill, so if the Gillibrand Amendment makes it in, it will survive the trip out of the Senate. Then the NDAA will go into reconciliation to be merged with the House version. During those negotiations, the difference between Gillibrand’s amendment and Gallego’s language will need to be ironed out. That takes us to some unknown territory, but given how vocal Gallego has been about the need for more action on UAP, I’m willing to bet he will like her language even more than his own. After that, Joe Biden will obviously not veto the NDAA (it would be political suicide) so this whole shindig might actually stand a very good chance of making it into law.

Not everyone in the ufology field was satisfied, of course. Robert Salas, the former Air Force nuclear missile silo commander who recently held a press conference about UFOs shutting down our strategic weapons systems, railed against Gillibrand’s bill. But his complaint was that even she hadn’t gone far enough and he wants even more transparency. As for me, I’m leaning toward the old rule about riding a horse too hard and eventually causing it to buck. Gillibrand has gone further in demanding UAP investigations and transparency than anyone before her. Perhaps we should be happy with what we may still get out of her and keep our powder dry for future fights.